A sudden rush of spring buyers in June pushed U.S. home prices modestly higher, a closely watched index of the sector showed Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index showed the average sale price of a U.S home increased by 3.6 per cent during the second quarter. That's a reversal from a 4.1 per cent loss in the first three months of the year.

Despite the gain, prices are still 5.9 per cent below where they were a year ago, as the bottom completely fell out of the U.S. housing market for a second time in late 2010.

"This month’s report showed mixed signals for recovery in home prices," the index's chairman, David Blitzer said after the results were posted.

Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington and Boston posted the biggest monthly increases.

No cities made new lows during the month, and the majority posted gains. But not all did. Some of the hardest hit markets — Tampa, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Miami, and the weakest of all, Detroit — have posted all time lows in 2011. So more than a year after the national average turned positive from its recessionary low, some cities are still in freefall.

"These shifts suggest that we are back to regional housing markets, rather than a national housing market where everything rose and fell together," Switzer said.

Nationally, home prices are now back to where they were in early 2003.